Was this product liability verdict a predictor of upcoming cases?

Pelvic mesh implants were introduced about a generation ago. They have been widely used across the world to treat so-called “stress incontinence” in women.


That condition involves the involuntary flow of urine. It most commonly occurs following childbirth and during menopause. The implants also target pelvic organ prolapse. That occurrence is marked primarily by the bladder dropping and pushing against the vaginal wall owing to weakened muscles.

The mesh has long been touted for its ability to ameliorate such problems. Implants have in fact proved successful for many women who have received them.

Tragically, though, they also have a proven history that is marked by a strong underside. Legions of implant recipients have complained of serious health issues and related pain symptoms resulting from implant defects. Mesh manufacturers consistently deny such claims. They have done so, though, while simultaneously taking mesh products off the market and finding themselves embroiled in litigation.

A recent article on the history of pelvic mesh problems and resulting product liability trials reports that the first court case was brought in 2012. Dozens have followed in its wake.

And they are not boding well for defendant mesh manufacturers, with a just-concluded jury trial in a New Jersey state court driving home that point. The New Jersey-headquartered mesh maker C.R. Bard was slammed earlier this month by a $68 million mesh implant verdict awarded to a plaintiff and her spouse following jurors’ determination that Bard’s implant was defectively designed. More than half of the award was designated as punitive damages.

Bard was involved in three other mesh-related lawsuits in other states prior to the most recent litigation. It prevailed in one of those, but had to pay out millions to plaintiffs in the other two cases.

Bard obviously hopes that the most recent outcome in its home state is not a harbinger of things to come. Multiple consolidated mesh lawsuits are lined up in New Jersey, and it doesn’t bode well for the company to face them in the wake of an initial court result finding it liable for scores of millions of dollars.